This paper presents a summary of results from a 2012 survey that investigated feeding and housing management regimens currently adopted by dairy farmers in Britain. Responses from 863 farms provide a snapshot of dairy industry structure and a description of the range of management systems currently in operation. Outcomes highlight a diversity of management practices, showing that 31% of farms maintained a traditional grazing system with no forage feeding indoors during the summer, whereas 38% of farmers indicated that all their milking cows received some feeding indoors during the summer. A system of housing dairy cows for 24 h/d while they are lactating was implemented by 8% of farms, whereas 1% of farms did not house their cows at any time of the year. Statistical analyses were carried out on 3 distinct groups identified from survey responses: (1) farmers who did not undertake any indoor feeding during the summer; (2) farmers who fed all their milking cows indoors during the summer; and (3) farmers who continuously housed their cows for 24 h/d while lactating. Results showed a significant relationship between management type and herd size, and between management type and breed type; on average, herd sizes were larger within systems that feed indoors. No significant relationship was found between management type and farm location when classified by estimated grassland productivity. The results indicate that traditional all-summer grazing is no longer the predominant system adopted by dairy farmers and that other systems such as all-year-round indoor feeding and continuous housing are becoming more prevalent in Britain.
- Management system